They used to call him, because he had been brought up in Brussels in Belgium as a bourgeois believer, the “Abbé Brel”.  The lyrics Jacques Brel wrote for many of his best ballads often made reference to the Catholic religion he had long since rejected.  Like so many of us, he was profoundly marked by his Jesuit indoctrination, and voiced his resentment in sometimes cynical fashion, but also, as in “Dites, Si C’était Vrai”, in gentle, nostalgic terms that express simply regret that none of the nonsense was true : “If only it were true, that He was born in a stable and the three Magi came from far away bearing gold, myrrh and incense, if only it were true, what was written by Luke, Matthew and the two others …”.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the bedtime stories we tell our children, and what they say in their prayers, “you know, when they say ‘Our Father’ and ‘Our Mother’ “, were the truth.  If all that were true, he admits in this charming recitative, he would say ‘yes’ – “oh, sûrement, je dirais ‘oui’ – because all that is so beautiful, if only we could believe it were true.”

DELENDA   RELIGIO

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